SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – State Rep. Kam Buckner, D-Chicago, took the oath of office Wednesday for a new legislative session, pledging to fight for more COVID-19 relief for families and local businesses, to protect critical programs that help lift families out of poverty, and to continue working to provide equality and justice under the law for all Illinoisans.
“We’ve seen the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on families throughout Illinois over the past year, but the South Side has been particularly hard hit due to longstanding inequalities,” Buckner said. “I’m committed not only to building a full recovery from the pandemic, but to building back a more equitable society that puts the needs of underserved families first.”
Buckner is committed to ensuring that COVID-19 relief funds are distributed in a fair and equitable manner. He fought for over $1.1 billion in funding for public health and COVID-19 testing. Buckner championed nearly $600 million in relief to help small businesses, including child care centers. He also fought for nearly $400 million in housing assistance and $275 million to support utility assistance and poverty reduction programs.
“COVID-19 relief should be targeted at struggling families and small businesses, not large corporations and billionaires that have taken advantage of the pandemic to get richer and richer,” Buckner said. “We need to keep families in their homes, keep small businesses that are our economic backbone alive, and provide full and equitable funding for COVID-19 testing, vaccine distribution and education, as well as community health care.
With difficult budget decisions ahead due to the continued economic effects of the pandemic, Buckner is pledging to protect essential services. This includes funding services including education, health care, job training, and violence prevention.
“I will not balance the budget on the backs of struggling families and seniors relying on lifesaving services nor will I support cuts to programs that reduce violence and help lift families out of poverty,” Buckner said. “While we must pass a balanced budget, we also have to pass a responsible budget that protects investments in the children and families of our state through education, health care, jobs and violence reduction.”
Buckner is pledging to build on a historic transformation of the criminal justice system. He supports making it easier to expunge arrest histories for alleged offenses that did not result in conviction as well as ensuring there are more reentry services for people released from incarceration.
“Illinois took historic steps to end a two-tiered system of criminal justice, but there is still more we can do to ensure justice for all and make our communities safer,” Buckner said. “A criminal record shouldn’t be a death sentence for holding a job or having home. I am committed to making sure that we reduce recidivism in a smart and safe manner by supporting programs that assist those who have encountered the criminal justice system.”